In her words, Vicki successfully “low-profiled” her past after Dallas. Her husband advised it. Close friends were kept in the dark. Still others never made a connection. At most, the name Victoria Adams was linked only to a lead singer of the Spice Girls.
“I tend to be reclusive,” she once admitted. “I thought I was this private person, a roving gypsy who lit and flitted through life.”
Supporting that itinerant notion were repeated job changes, six uninterrupted years drifting along the blue highways of America, and a Warren Commission that effectively dismissed her on seemingly reasonable grounds.
What little that was available about her came mainly from her scanty official testimony and a cursory FBI interview stuffed deep into the 26 volumes. A few other documents popped up, but only by way of in-person searches at the National Archives. Some of the pioneers who scoured such evidence came across her comments and were drawn to three areas of interest: when she came down the stairs (“immediately”), where she felt the shots came from (“the right below rather than from the left above”), and who she saw outside (a man “very similar” in appearance to Jack Ruby).
Her first open mention occurred in Mark Lane’s 1966 book, Rush to Judgment. Briefly noting her quick descent from the fourth floor of the Depository, Lane focused instead on her implication shots originated from the grassy knoll (p. 110), and her probable sighting of Ruby in a place he shouldn’t have been (pp. 262-63).
She was later talked into appearing with Lane as a guest on the Mort Sahl show in Los Angeles. She discussed her whole story then, but was disappointed with the result. “They were only interested in whether or not I had seen Ruby,” Vicki said. “So I just gave up.”
Sylvia Meagher, however, set her sights on the critical stairway angle. “We now revert to Victoria Adams,” she wrote in Accessories After the Fact, “bearing in mind that if her story is accurate it decisively invalidates the Warren Commission’s hypothesis about Oswald’s movements between 12: 30 and 12:33 pm” (pp. 72-74). Published in 1967, one must wonder why such recognized significance was never pursued.
Harold Weisberg took a slightly different track. In 1967’s Photographic Whitewash, he used Vicki’s statement that her view of the motorcade was temporarily obstructed by an oak tree in an attempt to pinpoint the president’s position when the first shot struck him (pp. 51-52).
Also that year, Josiah Thompson in Six Seconds in Dallas listed Vicki as one more who felt shots came from the knoll. To his credit he clarified that labeling by citing what she actually had said: “below & to the right” (p. 254).
“And I was even in Playboy magazine,” Vicki teased one day. Indeed she was, but not how most might think. In a lengthy February 1967 Playboy interview with Mark Lane, the attorney brought up her name, telling readers that based on her testimony, she was on the stairway at the same time as Oswald. “He wasn’t there,” Lane quoted Vicki as saying.
Misspelling her name, Jim Bishop in 1968 wrote this colorful and imaginative prose in The Day Kennedy Was Shot: “Not many, even in the plaza, noticed the group of girls squealing with anticipation on the fourth floor of the School Book Depository. They clasped and unclasped their hands with delight as the lead car approached. The office belonged to Vickie Adams. She had invited her friends, Sandra Styles, Elsie Dorman, and Dorothy May Garner to watch with her. The girls were thrilled because of the exceptional view, looking downward into the car, and the possibility of seeing the youthful, attractive First Lady and what she was wearing. The girls were prepared to discuss Mrs. Kennedy’s shoes, gloves, hat, coiffure, even the roses” (pp. 168-69).
In 1968’s Moment of Madness: The People vs. Jack Ruby, Elmer Gertz writes: “Victoria Adams is cited by [Mark] Lane as a witness to Ruby’s presence at the scene of the assassination. Her only comment was that the man she saw looked ‘very similar’ to Ruby. Her testimony indicated that the man she saw was probably on the corner for more than fifteen minutes [his emphasis], which exceeded the maximum time that Ruby could have spent there in order to return to the [Dallas Morning News] newspaper office on time” (p. 526).
Warren Commission attorney David Belin, who took Vicki’s official testimony in 1964, used the exact same arguments from back then to discredit her all over again—this time to even greater lengths—in his 1973 book, November 22: You Are the Jury (pp. 268-71). As a result of his initial questioning of Vicki, he pointed out in his book, “[Joseph] Ball and I had come to another dead end in our efforts to establish the innocence of Oswald or the existence of a co-conspirator.”
Despite showing an interest in Vicki, the HSCA failed to acknowledge her in its 1979 final report.
“Indeed, one witness, Victoria Adams, testified she was on the stairway at that time, and heard no one,” David Lifton correctly penned in his 1980 best seller, Best Evidence. “The Commission concluded she was wrong as to when she was coming down the stairs” (p. 351).
Only snippets of her story were presented in 1989’s wide-ranging Crossfire by Jim Marrs (pp. 44, 53, and 325).
But Oswald had his long-awaited day in court in Walt Brown’s 1992 The People v. Lee Harvey Oswald. In this fiction-based-on-fact courtroom drama, Appendix A reveals that Vicki was subpoenaed as a witness for the imaginary trial but, true to form, was not called to testify (p. 613).
Vicki made her silver screen debut in 1992’s hit movie JFK. Oliver Stone portrayed her running down the stairs as a frenzied Lee Oswald rushes by, a taunt by the director at how it had to be if the Warren Commission’s scenario of that particular event were true. The actress who depicted Vicki was not named in the credits.
The real Victoria Adams is alphabetically listed as a witness in two encyclopedic paperbacks: 1992’s The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James Duffy and Vincent Ricci (p. 5), and 1993’s Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination by Michael Benson (also p. 5).
Vicki’s “immediate” run down the stairs is elevated in 1993 to taking “at least four to five minutes after the third shot”—an opinion introduced by way of a footnote, no less—in Gerald Posner’s Case Closed (p. 264). Posner reportedly smiled and quietly walked away when shown a document by a fellow researcher that contradicted his inflated time estimate and instead corroborated her speediness.
She’s noted only as a looker-on to the story of co-worker Elsie Dorman’s jumpy attempt at filming the presidential motorcade from their fourth-floor perch in Richard Trask’s 1994 Pictures of the Pain (pp. 443 and 445).
Coverup, written in 1998 by Stewart Galanor, correctly cites Vicki’s testimony where she said the sound of the shots “seemed as if it came from the right below rather than from the left above” (p. 75). Yet a bit later, Galanor lists her as still another witness who felt the shots came from the knoll (p. 171).
In Murder in Dealey Plaza, a collection of articles edited by James H. Fetzer and published in 2000, you’ll find Vicki’s actions between 12:30 and 12:32 described chronologically as part of “Part I: The Day JFK Was Shot” (pp. 45-46).
Professor Gerald McKnight provides a general account of Vicki’s statements and actions in 2005’s Breach of Trust. But then he writes “immediately after the assassination Adams gave the same account to Dallas police detective James R. Leavelle” (pp. 113-14). Actually, Vicki gave that account to Leavelle nearly three months after the assassination. And in footnotes on page 377 (#13 and #17), McKnight says that Vicki corrected her Warren Commission testimony on February 17, 1964, a task hard to imagine since her testimony didn’t take place until April 7, 1964. The February 17 date was when she was interviewed by Leavelle.
Her name takes on the more fashionable “Ms. Adams” in G. Paul Chambers 2010 book Head Shot (p. 61). And she is christened as a possible assassin, of all things, in Vincent Bugliosi’s 2007 tome, Reclaiming History. “Why not?” he asks, hopefully in jest for his sake. “Women can pull triggers too, you know” (p. 832).
Once The Girl on the Stairs was commercially published in 2013, Vicki’s full narrative finally became known. Had she lived to see it happen, it’s doubtful she would have changed her style.
“You know what?” she told me one day. “Here is the truth: I want nothing. I do not crave fame nor fortune. I just want to help you since it has been so terribly important to you. I just want someone to hear the truth. Should your book be published before I die, I do not want anyone to know where I am. I want no publicity. And I know on an inner level that you will respect my confidentiality.”
As hoped, The Girl prompted further discussions and studies of this overlooked woman. Yet it still didn’t stop the occasional errors of fact. For instance, Jerome Corsi in his 2013 book Who Really Killed Kennedy? devotes a section to Vicki that he titles “The Girl in [sic] the Stairs.” He tells readers Vicki “produced for Ernest a 1964 letter her attorney had written to J. Lee Rankin…complaining that someone had made changes in her deposition, altering her meaning” (pp. 94-95). Vicki didn’t produce the letter; it was discovered in the National Archives. The letter was written to Rankin by Asst. U.S. Attorney Martha Joe Stroud, who certainly was not counsel to Vicki. And the letter merely listed a few grammatical corrections Vicki had noted after reviewing a transcript of her deposition. It contained no complaints about changes that altered her meaning. That would surface later.
Also in 2013, Flip de May, gave Vicki the dues she had been denied. In a lengthy segment of Cold Case Kennedy, he traced Vicki’s step-by-step journey down the stairs in an elaborate and graphic timeline (pp. 351-62). He titled that part of his book “The women on the stairs,” the plural alluding to a neglected coworker who had accompanied Vicki.
And again in 2013, historian James DiEugenio offered up an accurate and thorough examination of Vicki’s unabridged account in Reclaiming Parkland (pp. 91-95).
The most recent mention of Vicki appears in Vince Palamara’s latest book, Honest Answers about the Murder of President John F. Kennedy: A New Look at the JFK Assassination. In this March 2021 volume, the author calls her version of events a “game changer” because “it proves that Oswald could not have been firing a rifle up on the sixth floor” (p. 110).
Today, additional considerations of Vicki are being planned.
Many years ago, Vicki tried to tell authorities her side of the story. “I said it so many times I got tired of saying it,” she once explained. But nobody wanted to hear it back then. “No one wanted to believe anything else other than what they wanted to believe.”